Twenty two new working peers will join the House of Lords. Photo: AFP
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Dame Gail Rebuck, widow of Philip Gould, announced as new Labour peer

Twenty two new peers announced.

Dame Gail Rebuck, the widow of Labour peer Philip Gould, has been selected by Labour to become a working peer.

The chair of Penguin Random House UK, Dame Gail was voted the 10th most powerful woman in the UK by Radio 4's Woman's House last year. Made a dame in 2009, she will now join the Lords, to which her late husband was elevated in 2004.

Gould, who died in 2011, was an aide to Tony Blair and one of the principle architects of the New Labour political project.

Michael Cashman, a former Eastenders actor, has also been nominated by Labour for a peerage.

The announcement today of the latest round of working peers sees 22 titles bestowed by the Queen.

Twelve peers have been appointed by the Tories, six by the Lib Dems, three by Labour and one by the Democratic Unionist Party.

Accusations of cronyism have already been thrown at the Conservatives, as details of the plan to ennoble key donor Michael Farmer, a City financier, were leaked last week. Former M&S boss Sir Stuart Rose and football executive Karren Brady have also been nominated.

Before today, David Cameron had already named 161 new peers since 2010. The new appointments have come amid a row that the House of Lords is becoming over crowded and too expensive.

New figures revealed earlier this week showed that expenses claimed by members of the Lords have risen by more than £4 million since the government came to power. Peers’ allowances have increased from £17.2m before the 2010 election to £21.6m.

Former Commons Speaker Baroness Boothroyd complained this week that the Lords was becoming overcrowded and urged older peers to bow out.

New rules passed this year allow peers to retire permanently from the House for the first time.

Boothroyd said: “It is so overcrowded that there is enough space for only about two thirds of us in the chamber itself.”

Speaking on Radio 4’s World at One on Monday, she added: “It is appalling. All prime ministers are very keen to put a lot of new members in here so that they can get their legislation through.”

 

The full list of new working peers is below.

 

Conservative Party

Karren Brady CBE – Vice-Chairman of West Ham FC; Senior Non-Executive Director of the Syco and Arcadia Brands; Small Business Ambassador for the Conservative Party; and member of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Women in Sport Advisory Board.

Martin Callanan – former Conservative Member of the European Parliament for the North East of England; former Leader of the Conservative MEPs and of the European Conservatives and Reformists group.

Carlyn Chisholm – Senior volunteer in the Conservative Party; Co-Chairman of the Conservative Candidate’s Committee; former nurse.

Andrew Cooper – Former Director of Political Operations to the Conservative Party; founder and Board Director of Populus.

Natalie Evans – Director of New Schools Network, an independent educational charity established to provide free advice and support for groups wanting to set up free schools.

Michael Farmer – Founding Partner of RK Mine Finance Group; Trustee of the Kingham Hill Trust; Treasurer of the Conservative Party.

Dido Harding – Chief Executive of TalkTalk Telecom Group PLC.

Arminka Helic – Government Special Adviser; leading adviser to Government on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict.

Nosheena Mobarik CBE – Businesswomen; former Chairman of CBI Scotland; founder and Convener of the Scotland Pakistan Network; Chairman of the Pakistan Britain Trade and Investment Forum.

Sir Stuart Rose – Former Chief Executive and Chairman of Marks and Spencer PLC.

Joanna Shields OBE – leading technology industry executive and entrepreneur; the Prime Minister’s Digital Adviser; Chair of Tech City UK; and Non-Executive Director of the London Stock Exchange.

Ranbir Suri – businessman; former General Secretary of the Board of British Sikhs.

 

Labour Party

Michael Cashman CBE – Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands constituency; equality rights campaigner; former actor.

Chris Lennie – political strategist; former Deputy Secretary General of the Labour Party.

Dame Gail Rebuck – businesswoman, publisher, chairman of Penguin Random House UK

 

Liberal Democrat Party

Chris Fox - Director of Group Communications for GKN; former Chief Executive of the Liberal Democrats.

Cllr David Goddard – elected Member of Stockport Metropolitan Council; former Leader of Stockport Council; former Member of the Greater Manchester Police Authority; former Non-Executive Director of Manchester International Airport.

Cllr Barbara Janke – elected Member and former Leader of Bristol City Council; former teacher.

Cllr Kath Pinnock – elected Member and former Leader of Kirklees Council.

Paul Scriven – managing partner for Scriven Consulting; former elected Member and Leader of Sheffield City Council; former senior NHS manager.

Cllr Dr Julie Smith – elected Member of Newnham City Council; Senior Lecturer in International Relations in the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) at Cambridge University; Fellow of Robinson College.

 
Democratic Unionist Party

William Hay MLA – Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, who has elected to sit on the crossbenches.

Lucy Fisher writes about politics and is the winner of the Anthony Howard Award 2013. She tweets @LOS_Fisher.

 

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Debunking Boris Johnson's claim that energy bills will be lower if we leave the EU

Why the Brexiteers' energy policy is less power to the people and more electric shock.

Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have promised that they will end VAT on domestic energy bills if the country votes to leave in the EU referendum. This would save Britain £2bn, or "over £60" per household, they claimed in The Sun this morning.

They are right that this is not something that could be done without leaving the Union. But is such a promise responsible? Might Brexit in fact cost us much more in increased energy bills than an end to VAT could ever hope to save? Quite probably.

Let’s do the maths...

In 2014, the latest year for which figures are available, the UK imported 46 per cent of our total energy supply. Over 20 other countries helped us keep our lights on, from Russian coal to Norwegian gas. And according to Energy Secretary Amber Rudd, this trend is only set to continue (regardless of the potential for domestic fracking), thanks to our declining reserves of North Sea gas and oil.


Click to enlarge.

The reliance on imports makes the UK highly vulnerable to fluctuations in the value of the pound: the lower its value, the more we have to pay for anything we import. This is a situation that could spell disaster in the case of a Brexit, with the Treasury estimating that a vote to leave could cause the pound to fall by 12 per cent.

So what does this mean for our energy bills? According to December’s figures from the Office of National Statistics, the average UK household spends £25.80 a week on gas, electricity and other fuels, which adds up to £35.7bn a year across the UK. And if roughly 45 per cent (£16.4bn) of that amount is based on imports, then a devaluation of the pound could cause their cost to rise 12 per cent – to £18.4bn.

This would represent a 5.6 per cent increase in our total spending on domestic energy, bringing the annual cost up to £37.7bn, and resulting in a £75 a year rise per average household. That’s £11 more than the Brexiteers have promised removing VAT would reduce bills by. 

This is a rough estimate – and adjustments would have to be made to account for the varying exchange rates of the countries we trade with, as well as the proportion of the energy imports that are allocated to domestic use – but it makes a start at holding Johnson and Gove’s latest figures to account.

Here are five other ways in which leaving the EU could risk soaring energy prices:

We would have less control over EU energy policy

A new report from Chatham House argues that the deeply integrated nature of the UK’s energy system means that we couldn’t simply switch-off the  relationship with the EU. “It would be neither possible nor desirable to ‘unplug’ the UK from Europe’s energy networks,” they argue. “A degree of continued adherence to EU market, environmental and governance rules would be inevitable.”

Exclusion from Europe’s Internal Energy Market could have a long-term negative impact

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd said that a Brexit was likely to produce an “electric shock” for UK energy customers – with costs spiralling upwards “by at least half a billion pounds a year”. This claim was based on Vivid Economic’s report for the National Grid, which warned that if Britain was excluded from the IEM, the potential impact “could be up to £500m per year by the early 2020s”.

Brexit could make our energy supply less secure

Rudd has also stressed  the risks to energy security that a vote to Leave could entail. In a speech made last Thursday, she pointed her finger particularly in the direction of Vladamir Putin and his ability to bloc gas supplies to the UK: “As a bloc of 500 million people we have the power to force Putin’s hand. We can coordinate our response to a crisis.”

It could also choke investment into British energy infrastructure

£45bn was invested in Britain’s energy system from elsewhere in the EU in 2014. But the German industrial conglomerate Siemens, who makes hundreds of the turbines used the UK’s offshore windfarms, has warned that Brexit “could make the UK a less attractive place to do business”.

Petrol costs would also rise

The AA has warned that leaving the EU could cause petrol prices to rise by as much 19p a litre. That’s an extra £10 every time you fill up the family car. More cautious estimates, such as that from the RAC, still see pump prices rising by £2 per tank.

The EU is an invaluable ally in the fight against Climate Change

At a speech at a solar farm in Lincolnshire last Friday, Jeremy Corbyn argued that the need for co-orinated energy policy is now greater than ever “Climate change is one of the greatest fights of our generation and, at a time when the Government has scrapped funding for green projects, it is vital that we remain in the EU so we can keep accessing valuable funding streams to protect our environment.”

Corbyn’s statement builds upon those made by Green Party MEP, Keith Taylor, whose consultations with research groups have stressed the importance of maintaining the EU’s energy efficiency directive: “Outside the EU, the government’s zeal for deregulation will put a kibosh on the progress made on energy efficiency in Britain.”

India Bourke is the New Statesman's editorial assistant.